“It is in the past…” -the esteemed philosopher Rafiki
Want to get a peek at the first verses I ever memorized? I am not perfect
remembering every verse, but these verses from the Bible really stuck with me.
Open your Bible and read 1 Timothy 1:12-17 and take a look at one of my favorite pieces of scripture.
In these verses, Paul is talking about his past. Paul is the guy who wrote
down quite a bit of the New Testament in the Bible. Before he met Jesus, he was
very different. Look at the description of his old life. He was violent. He
spoke against what God had done. He did bad things to people who believed in
Jesus, including killing them. His life changed when he met Jesus, but he still
had to live with his past.
You may be dealing with the same emotions that Paul had at this point as
well. Often, when we begin to study God’s Word and see what His standards are,
we begin to feel guilty about things we did before we met Christ. If we had
understood how bad those decisions would be, we would have acted very different.
Like Paul, we acted in ignorance and unbelief. Ignorance and unbelief are not
excuses but they are good descriptions of who we are and what we were. That’s
why God’s love for us and grace is so amazing.
What can we do with our past? We can remember that God has forgiven it and we
can be thankful for His grace. What is grace? It’s getting kindness when we did
not deserve it. When you were forgiven by Jesus you did not deserve kindness and
forgiveness, it was God’s gift. Because of this gift, we can be free from our
past. We still deal with consequences for some bad decisions in our past, but we
do not have to worry about God being mad at us or not forgiving us.
Further, we can let the changes in our lives be a demonstration to others
that God can forgive anyone- as Paul says, even the worst of sinners. That is
the reason you are being discipled. That is the reason you are looking for
people to tell about Jesus. Your life is changing because of Jesus and you know
that other people can be changed because of Jesus. In fact, when you start
feeling guilty about your past life of sin, you should start looking at your
present life with Jesus. The changes in you are a miracle and they should help
you to change your guilt to excitement about your new life.
Take a few minutes today and thank God for forgiving your past. Ask God to
help you bury the past and look to the future you have serving Him. Ask God to
use the changes in your life to reach others. Make a list of the things that you
used to do that were sins and share them with your mentor. Celebrate together
the changes God is making in your life! Remember the verse you are memorizing,
2 Corinthians 5:17. You are a new creation!